Mini-Makeover #1: Lackluster Brick Family Room

For many years now I have dreamt of helping people make their homes beautiful! Your home should be the place where you feel most settled. A place where you can entertain friends and family, or kick back and relax by yourself. Yet over time, I've seen more and more people I know (including myself) strive for a look or feel that they want to achieve in the design within their home, but they're not quite sure where to start.

When I sit back and watch home design shows on TV I often think to myself "well sure, if I had $20,000 to renovate my home I could make miracles happen too!" But what about the masses...the families that are average wage earners and lead busy lives juggling the responsibilities of career and family, with little to no extra money lying around. How can these people transform their homes into a sanctuary? How can a few hundred dollars that they could maybe afford to shell out amount to anything substantial? And with that, the idea for mini-makeovers was born. Think about it - we give ourselves mini-makeovers all the time: a new hair cut, a different nail color, a new outfit here and there - so why not try the same concept in our homes?  

One brave soul, an elementary school teacher named Cheryl, was willing to let me test out this concept in her home. Cheryl is the super-busy mother of four beautiful children under the age of six. Her husband is a school administrator, and both juggle the demands of public education with the demands of their own amazing family. There were two spaces in her home that she absolutely detested having to deal with every day: The Family Room and The Play Room. We met a couple of times and went through what she wanted and what she couldn't stand about the spaces, and we created a wish list and budget. Cheryl had managed to set aside about $1,000 over time and could allot about $500 to each room. While this budget was challenging, I was up for it! I wanted to prove to both her and to myself that with a big imagination and a little bit of money, a space could be totally transformed.


The overall energy in the room was pretty dark and drab. Not at all reflecting the energy of this wonderful family. The owner didn't like the arrangement of furniture or overall flow to the space. There are some important things to note before revealing what I changed:
  • The walls had been freshly painted in the cream color shown above (from a mossy green)
  • The area rug and curtains were also pretty much brand new
  • Ceiling fan was new and recently hung
  • Owners hated their brown sofa and chair
  • Owners liked the French Country style clock hanging above the fireplace  


I love how this room turned out! A once dark and empty space is now open, inviting and bright! We used the same furniture, rug and curtains - but transformed this space with paint and symmetry. The biggest impact is the painted brick fireplace. There was a little apprehension by the owners to paint over the brick, but it turned out to be super easy and very impactful! We stayed in budget with the biggest expense coming from the storage units from Target that are found on each side of the fireplace. While we wanted the built-in look, we didn't have the built-in budget. So this is where you have to get creative with your shopping and boy did they just fit!

Painted Brick Fireplace

Custom-made coffee table 
Can't find what you want in the stores? Head to Craigslist or Etsy and see what your local artisans are making. I found this from a wood worker in GlenFalls, NY and paid $99 for this custom piece. He made it out of four old wine crates and in doing so, the owner ended up with storage all around.

The devil is in the details and I really wanted to keep things bright and modern with a feeling of french country charm. Shopping around at stores like Hobby Lobby, AC Moore and Homegoods, I was able to find great pieces at great prices that worked well in the space. 
Wall hangings


With a budget like ours, there was no way around the homeowners having to do the dirty work. They were such good sports about it and dove right in doing everything they needed to do to get the space finished. 

Below are some photos of the fireplace paint-job and it's really amazing how big of a change there is in the room just from the fireplace getting painted. Amazing (and cheap)!!!

* NOTE: We used fire retardant paint on the entire fireplace
Brick ready for priming
1st coat on the brick
The "Good Sport" husband
The "not so custom" built-ins

I couldn't be happier with how things turned out and I'm most happy about how much the owners are enjoying this room. They have told me they use it all the time to entertain, and where they were once embarrassed about the space, they now embrace it and love to show it off. YEY!

Stay tuned for my next Mini-Makeover post where I transformed their Play Room from drab to fab! Coming soon...


  1. Really nice job, Laura! Total night and day. Can you send me info on the woodworker in Glens Falls? Would like to use him in the future. Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much Jake! Appreciate the kind words :) I have the guy's info. at home and will get it for you...he can basically make just about anything you want with your own custom dimensions.


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